Living Christmas trees

clodog(SW Ontario)December 30, 2005

I recently bought a living Christmas tree (a 20" cedar) that has very limited roots and decorated by some cretin using the wrong lights and hot melt glue. I bought it so that it could be undecorated and not left to die at the hands of some neglectful produce department staff. I've repotted it but read that it should actually go into the garden promptly. Given that this thing doesn't have much of a root ball and we're about to plunge into some very cold temperatures around the Toronto area in the next few days, any advice as to what to do next? Is the advice to plant promptly for pines not cedars? Is planting living Christmas trees only a propos for those in more temperate zones?

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jimbad05(z5 OH)

My grandpa owns a Christmas tree farm where I work.. so I should be able to help. Incidentally, I also work in the produce department of a grocery store.. we're not all neglectful! :p

Unfortunately, I don't have experience growing Cedar. But, I would imagine they are similar to most other pines. My advice: do whatever. Pines are extremely hardy trees. Unless heavily diseased or flooded, they will not die. We once had a live cut Christmas tree survive indoors with just water until St. Patrick's day! Besides, during the winter the trees are dormant anyway. The important thing is to make sure it is planted by June. That is when the real growth and nutrient action happen. So, if you happen to get some nice weather, go ahead and set it outside. The cold won't hurt it. If not, be sure to set it out in spring time.

Also, when planting, be sure to make sure all roots are pointing downwards. If pointing up, they can supposedly "J-root" and begin growing upwards, which is thought to kill the tree. On the farm we just use an old paint stir to push all roots down into the hole. Also, you could even snip the roots a bit. Pruning the roots (if not done in excess) can help encourage root growth in the Spring.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 8:55PM
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